The bills themselves are bad enough, and I'll get to them shortly. But at least with respect to SOPA, I'm gonna attack the messenger, or more precisely, the primary sponsor - Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. I've seen his name come up before in stuff I read at Reason, and he strikes me as a man who is impervious to both popular opinion and the weight of evidence. He's an hardcore drug warrior and ardently anti-immigration. And he made it clear today that despite what Eric Cantor said over the weekend, markup on SOPA will continue next month. He also called Wikipedia's blackout action "a publicity stunt." Um, DUH! That's why it's being done - to raise awareness of what a piece of shit your bill is!
Smith says that the concerns are overblown and this sort of power wouldn't be wielded against sites like Wikipedia. In other words: "you can trust us, we know what we're doing." Last I heard, 89 percent of the population failed to express a positive opinion of the United States Congress. And as for the Internet specifically, when I think of how Congress sees it, what's the first thing that comes to my mind? Ted Stevens and his series of tubes. Chris Heald of Mashable did something that I'd bet no more than 10 percent of the 435 Representatives has done - he read the SOPA bill. He lays out just how vague the statutory language is. Such a wide net isn't going to ensnare everybody. But it gives the Department of Justice a whole lot of discretion, and opens the door to abuse. Think DoJ can't get creative with its interpretations of Federal law? Ask marine biologist Nancy Black about that. But don't U. S. Attorneys place serious stock in their public trust? They would never silence critics or be vindictive, right? It's too bad Siobhan Reynolds recently died in a place crash; otherwise, I think she'd beg to differ.
Too much power and too much discretion in the hands of too few people. A legal process that turns the American tradition of presumption of innocence on its head. Support from the MPAA and RIAA, who can do little more than stand athwart history and yell "STOP!" And from what I'm seen, no popular support whatsoever. Today's actions have provided a lot of momentum against SOPA and PIPA, but these bills need to be totally incinerated, because they're so bad that I wouldn't wipe my ass with the paper they're printed on.